CINCINNATI — Kerry Coombs, by his own admission, is living an extraordinary life right now in Columbus.
The Ohio State assistant football coach is with one of the nation’s elite college football programs and won a national championship in the 2014 season.
He was with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer at the NFL Draft in Chicago a few weeks ago when five OSU players were taken in the first round.
Whether it’s on the field, recruiting or media appearances, Coombs wears the scarlet and gray with pride. Most importantly, the 54-year-old is having fun and continues to learn. (If there is ever any doubt, watch video of him running against Ohio State students in April).
He has an opportunity for a homecoming of sorts Saturday when he will be inducted into the Reading Sorrentos Hamilton County Sports Hall of Fame. Coombs made sure to clear his schedule for this honor.
“I am very grateful,” Coombs told WCPO.com this week. “I am flattered. It’s a cool thing.”
The 54th hall of fame induction will be held at the St. Patrick’s Knights of Columbus, 7500 Fairpark Ave., in Carthage starting at 7 p.m.
"I am pleased for Kerry, his wife Holly, and the Coombs family that he is going to be inducted into the Hamilton County Hall of Fame," Meyer said. "This recognition could not go to a more deserving individual. Kerry's ties to the area and his energy and enthusiasm as a father, coach and mentor is second to none. He loves Cincinnati so this will truly be a meaningful honor for him."
Dr. Beth Osterday-Strange, a 1996 St. Ursula graduate and three-sport star before becoming of Xavier University’s all-time greats in volleyball, will also be inducted.
“I’m very surprised and humbled,” Osterday-Strange said. “It’s a huge honor.”
Osterday-Strange, who lives in Union Township, was inducted in the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. She was a finalist for the national Wendy’s High School Heisman Award in 1995 and was selected the LaRosa’s High School Female MVP of the Year in the 1995-96 school year.
She helped St. Ursula win Division II volleyball state championships in 1994, ’95 and ’96, which were part of a run of six consecutive titles for the Bulldogs.
Osterday-Strange, who is a dentist in Anderson Township, said she remembers details of every last play of the state finals.
“It seems like a dream for me,” she said. “I look back at it and it seems too good to be true.”
Osterday-Strange was also named first-team all-Ohio in volleyball, basketball and softball as a senior.
An outside hitter at Xavier, she is most proud of setting the school record in digs (1,728) during her time there. She was selected to the Xavier Hall of Fame in 2005.
Coombs, a 1979 Colerain High School graduate, is thankful for all the opportunities the Northwest Local School District afforded him and his family. His wife, Holly, is a former principal in the district.
“The sports tradition in Hamilton County is phenomenal,” said Coombs, who is the cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator with the Buckeyes. “To be a part of that is really gratifying.”
Coombs left the high school coaching ranks almost 10 years ago, but he says coaching on Cheviot Road “feels like yesterday.”
“The thing that made it so special was the whole community was really into it,” Coombs said.
The Cardinals won the 2004 Division I state title (15-0 record) – the same year the turf was installed at the home stadium. Coombs remembers one donation was for $50,000 over five years but the others were $500 or less – a true grassroots campaign that saw residents put in a strong contribution effort.
Coombs is entering his 35th season of coaching football this season, but he doesn’t it view like that.
“I appreciate every day,” Coombs said. “I am excited to get out of bed every morning.”
Coombs, a former University of Cincinnati assistant coach, still recruits the Cincinnati area with the Buckeyes.
"I've had the privilege of knowing Kerry since he was coaching at Colerain,” said Kevin Goheen, one of the hall's organizers. “He has never lost the zest, the intensity that every outstanding teacher — which is at the heart of being a coach — owns. That's actually a good way to describe Kerry: He owns everything he does. It's an honor to have him as part of this year's class of inductees along with Beth.”
Coombs was thrilled to see Buckeye Eli Apple taken at No. 10 by the New York Giants and a widely circulated photo made its way online with Coombs’ fist pumped into the air with jubilee.
Apple was the second cornerback to be taken in the first round in the past three years (Bradley Roby in 2014).
“One of the greatest experiences off the field I’ve ever had in football,” Coombs said of the draft.